Snowboard bindings have come a long way since the days of nylon straps and Sorels. Technology which began as a glorified water ski setup has since enjoyed various phases of progressively sophisticated designs. Plate-style bindings turned into disc systems with high-backs and increasing amounts of foot padding, the step-in had its brief moment in the mid-90s before dying out, only to be rebooted last year with Burton’s Step On. Even a slew of quick entry systems have evolved, the biggest being Flow’s reclining high-back and, more recently, K2’s Cinch series.
Today, snowboard binding technology has become highly refined and the options are endless. This means there are so many factors to consider when shopping for a new pair of bindings — not to mention the effort it takes deciding on boots, boards, and goggles to round out your kit. Perhaps you desire plastic or aluminum materials, quick entry or a standard strap-in system, thick padding, or stiff straps; narrowing down these variables can seem overwhelming.
The first thing to consider before spending the money on a new pair of bindings is your skill level and how you like to ride. If you’re a beginner or intermediate snowboarder, you’ll probably want something softer and more forgiving, likely in the all-mountain or park binding categories. By contrast, if you’re an advanced or expert-level rider, you’ll want something stiffer and more aggressive with plenty of cushion to absorb shock. To help, we’ve compiled the best snowboard bindings for all riding styles.
Bent Metal is back with a vengeance. After rebooting Mervin’s beloved 90s-era binding brand in 2016, the company appears here to stay. For 2018, it debuted a women-specific binding to its lineup dubbed the Upshot — a classic, ultra-flexy model meant for women who like rip up the park. The Bi-Axial Calcium Fiber Drive Plate features a poly core with fiber-reinforced nylon, offering impeccable energy transfer alongside premium dampening effects.
If stomping hard landings are what you’re after, Bent Metal’s Revolutionary Cube technology — a square of urethane that spins into four different heights — allows you to precisely adjust how damp and chatter-free you want your ride to be. The IMEVA foam pad straps are cushiony and lightweight while remaining firm and reliable, and its soft urethane highbacks deliver careful control while staying playful. These are bindings that’ll let you lap the park comfortably for hours on end.
Burton’s medium flex Malavita has been a beloved favorite among park shredders for years, offering a playful, skate-like ride. The short-glass-nylon composite is ultra-strong and responsive, feeling at once aggressive and nimble. The interchangeable, asymmetric ankle straps feature a shape you can swap around to be soft and flexy or slightly more supportive, depending on where and what you’re riding. The Supergrip Capstrap on the toe is glue-less, stitch-less and fully wraps the front of your foot.
Burton’s patented Dual-Component EST system eliminates the base plate under your foot completely, simplifying it with EVA foam and B3 Gel directly on the board, reducing weight and magnifying the already bombproof dampening system. Burton’s Hinge technology near the heel cup increases lateral movement and injects tons of extra pop into the setup. Not only does this offer a more dynamic flex but it also prevents your muscles from getting tired quickly. Its mesh heel hammock in the high-back grabs your boots, cutting down on vibration and preventing you from having to crank down the straps and risk cutting off circulation.
If cruising through side-country or launching off natural kickers is how you spend your time on the hill, Union’s Legacy bindings are the ideal setup. Its minimalist, featherweight design strips everything down to the basics, keeping them simple without sacrificing elite performance. The medium flex bindings with Duraflex ST Legacy Base offer enough support to send it off big cliffs or down plush powder without being too stiff to keep you out of the park. Magnesium ratchet buckles keep you tightly locked in while padded, asymmetric ankle straps ensure you’re seamlessly connected to your board — the sonic-fused 3-D design creates a flawless response.
As a bonus, the straps feature minimal stitching so they’re bound to last long. The Legacy’s extruded 3-D aluminum heel cups deliver supreme strength and smoothly transfer energy through the base to the board. Your landings will feel cushy with Union’s Vaporlite bushings and closed cell foam footbeds that soak up vibration and destroy any backcountry chop you may encounter. All told, these bindings are a heavenly blend of tough and durable yet stay floaty and light, resulting in awesome all-around performance wherever the mountain takes you.
This stiff, hard-charging binding is a true all-terrain weapon. It’s a freeride binding that’s perfect for all-around resort riding as well as deep, out-of-bounds powder runs. K2’s awesome new Tunable Tripod Chassis — a cutting-edge dampening system — comes with three different sets of urethane bushings so you can dial in the flex exactly how you like it, creating a design engineered just for you. Uber-comfy canted footbeds are angled three degrees inward to offer support while allowing you to rip longer without getting tired.
The mega-tough yet surprisingly lightweight AT Opti highback offers sturdy, seamless energy transfer that makes the binding responsive while still having enough lateral flex to be playful. Rounding out this binding’s stellar features are its straps — a 3-D injected ankle strap that’s grippy and snug, as well as K2’s new Perfect Fit 2.0 toe strap, intended to deliver a full toe wrap free of pinching.
Rome’s Katana is the perfect binding for the go-everywhere, do-everything rider who wants the flexibility of hitting the park, ripping groomers, or cruising through powder. This fantastic all-mountain binding is chock-full of brand-new industry-leading technology aimed at enhancing performance while allowing for supreme customization. Rome’s all-new PivotMount Max 2.0 lets you adjust your toeside response by moving the ankle strap tool-free with the turn of a screw. You can also dial in the highback to perfectly fit your lower leg depending on your stance, resulting in standout responsiveness and precision.
Flex-With-Pop technology delivers an immaculate hybrid of medial-side flex with lateral-side control, leaving the high-back feeling powerful and responsive. Strap-wise, you can achieve a reliably snug fit with Rome’s injected EVA Ultralight ankle strap which features a comfortable, hex-patterned grip. The long-trusted ConformGrip 2.0 toe strap molds to the shape of your foot with a stretchy, high-friction material, evenly distributing pressure for a pain-free ride. The Katana also features an AsymWrap heel hoop and V-Rod Ultra light baseplates, delivering bindings which allow you to tear up every nook and cranny of the entire mountain.
NOW’s Brigade is a binding with a killer combination of freestyle, skate-like features, and all-mountain, freeride components. The company’s patented Skate-Tech mimics a skateboard’s trucks, offering a playful hinge, letting you rock back and forth while its hanger transfers energy from the straps to the bushings — offering stability when at top speeds. The new-and-improved Hanger 2.0 features a wider heel cup and a drop-down medial wall that bolsters lateral flexibility and prevents ice build-up. Its pre-rotated, free-wing highback offers support while the responsive, asymmetrical toe strap pulls the front of your boot snugly into the heel cup, customizing the perfect fit.
Perhaps its best feature is NOW’s Kingpin Tool-Less quick-change system that lets you switch your bindings from one deck to another without resetting your stance. Unlike traditional baseplate discs — which are notorious for breaking into a pile of wobbly discs and loose screws the second you turn the knob — this system leaves the mounting discs on the board. To swap bindings, simply turn the pin and pop them out. You can then slide them easily over mounting discs on other boards, popping them into place without any tools. It allows thesse to truly stand out as all-mountain riders.